Step 2. Define your audience.
Content should reach defined publics in ways that establish your expertise or market your products and services. There are different ways of “marketing” online content: high sell, low sell, and zero sell:
- High sell online content marketing includes direct advertisements, like Facebook ads, promoted tweets, and Google AdWords.
- Low sell content marketing includes writing that doesn’t directly advertise a product or service, but rather shares some knowledge or expertise that subtly guides readers toward paid content, like online courses, e-books, guides, products or services. Building an email list by offering some free content is one common “low sell” strategy that opens the door to direct, “high sell” communications later on.
- Zero sell content is exactly as it sounds: free content that is shared to establish expertise, promote the organization, teach a community, or solicit public participation. This content is typically posted on blogs or resource libraries accessible to the general public and directed towards the broader discipline or field of study that your organization wants to reach. A long-term zero sell approach that might work nowadays is starting a podcast, likely with the help of experts from organizations like Lower Street (https://lowerstreet.co/). This could aid in establishing presence and making yourself known to your target audience.
No matter the degree of marketing in your content, your desired customers or communities should always be in the front of your mind as you develop ideas and write them up. It’s important to tailor the degree of marketing in your copy to particular audiences. For instance, it makes the most sense to use “high sell” marketing approaches with your key client leads, and “zero sell” with your broader field. Some human-centered design approaches, like personas, can help you identify the types of audiences you most want to reach–and develop strategies for appealing to them.